The DLSU Green Batters return to the UAAP Baseball finals scene as they’ve dominated the second round so far. They’ve won over the UP Maroon Batters (14-5), the UST Golden Sox (3-2), and now the Adamson Soaring Falcons (4-1). The games were held at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Diamond.
The Second Round Opener
The Green Batters blew away the UP Maroon Batters during the second round opener. The Taft-based squad was on a batting frenzy as they made fourteen runs. Though the Green Batters had tight defense, the Maroon Batters were able to sneak away with five runs.
The Green-and-White team had confessed that their overkill of the Ateneo Blue Batters gave them even more confidence for the rest of the season. They were able to carry the momentum from that game to their game against UP. With that, their batting was on point throughout the matchup.
Signs of hope were being shown by the Maroon Batters as they were able to get five runs during the game. That proved fruitful as they were able to manhandle their next opponent in the tournament, the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
In the end, what really mattered for the Green Batters was the win. The Green Batters ended the game in dominating fashion as the final score was 14-5. They were able to extend their winning streak to five and looked to overcome the UST Golden Sox next.
The Green Batters next faced the UST Golden Sox in what was a close game. Defense and pitching was the story of the game for DLSU. Green Batter Francis Gesmundo was the highlight of the match as he was able to strike out thirteen UST Batters.
Francis “Kiko” Gesmundo opened the game by striking out the first few batters of the España-based squad. In the second inning, UST’s Christian Mercado was able to score the run for his team. The score then was 0-1.
The runs started coming for the Green Batters during the fourth inning. Three runs were made by the Taft-based squad. These runs came from Boo Barandiaran, Iggy Escaño, and Tuwi Park. The fourth inning began with a Boo Barandiaran double. Iggy Escaño then walked to first base. UST Pitcher Jackson Acuña then threw a wild pitch that then led to Barandiaran scoring a run. This tied the game 1-1. Later on, Tuwi Park then connected with a base hit thus loading another base for DLSU. Gabriel “Gabo” Pineda then opted for the sacrifice fly to bring home Escaño, 2-1. Lastly, Franco Hashimoto brought home Park to finish the rally to 4-1.
Kiko Gesmundo continued to be a huge factor on defense. During the first six innings, he only allowed four hits for UST. He then continued until the seventh inning. After a Max Mercado run for his Golden Sox, Gesmundo was later replaced by Arvin Herrera. Kiko’s performance at the mound was pure killer instinct as he ended up striking out thirteen UST Batters. The Green Batters maintain the one run lead and ended the game with the score 3-2.
With the win, the Green Batters extended their streak to six and looked to reach seven as they next faced the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
The Return of the King Unicorn, Carlos Muñoz
Today’s game featured the return of team captain Carlos Muñoz back in the mound. He pitched the whole game for the Green Batters. He held the Adamson Soaring Falcon down with his deadly pitching. The Taft-based squad rendered the Soaring Falcons scoreless for eight straight innings.
The game started out exciting as the Adamson Soaring Falcons kicked off the game with a run. They were able to capitalize off a throwing error from catcher Paul Naguit to third baseman Carl Miñana. However, Carlos Muñoz stopped their momentum early by anchoring his team’s defense.
The Green Batters then took the lead in the bottom of the first inning with two runs. The two-run rally started off with Paolo Salud taking first base. In an instant, he then stole second base. Diego Lozano however flies out. Boo Barandiaran then makes a single while Iggy Escaño gives a sacrifice fly to both Salud and Barandiaran. Later on, Pao and Boo take prime scoring positions as Cholo Dominguez takes to the plate. Dominguez then makes an RBI single that then led to a Salud run. Carl Miñana then explodes with a massive RBI double that brought home Barandiaran. The two-run rally ended with Paul Naguit striking out. The first inning ended with DLSU on top, 2-1.
The game began to look like an exchange of runs with that high octane batting from the Green Batters early on. However, Captain Carl Muñoz thought otherwise. The Green Batters made it look easy on defense as the Soaring Falcons couldn’t connect on the plate. The highlight of the second inning came from an amazing run by rookie Joshua Salinas. As he took first base, Franco Hashimoto bunted the ball. The Soaring Falcons made a crucial mistake with the throwing error. Salinas, from first base, then took the opportunity to get the third run of the game. The second inning ended with the lead still favoring DLSU, 3-1.
The third inning was quiet for both teams with no runs being scored. In the fifth inning however, the Taft-based squad once again scored a run. It was like a replay of the first run. Salud makes a single and then steals second as Lozano flies out. But this time it was a Barandiaran RBI that brought home Salud with his second run of the game. The fourth inning ended with DLSU still controlling the game, 4-1.
The rest of the innings left both teams scoreless. DLSU’s lockdown defense led to AdU getting shut out for the rest of the game. However, the Green Batters lackluster batting came in late. They couldn’t connect properly on offense. Yes they made hits but couldn’t convert them into runs. The game ended with the Green Batters triumphant, 4-1.
After being injured with a dislocated shoulder, this was Carlos Muñoz first full game since the injury. The King Unicorn went crazy while pitching. He ended the game by shutting out the Soaring Falcons for eight straight innings. Captain Carl finished the game with a total of ten strikeouts. In today’s game, Coach Joseph Orillana gave him a different role. Usually coach chooses him for batting over pitching but it was the other way around today. Muñoz commented, “It was a little different, I’m not used to pitching and not hitting.” He later added that he doesn’t mind changing roles, “Everyone’s been playing there roles and… I don’t care who I am, I’ll play my role too. And it worked.”
The Road to the Finals is set: “This is our year”
With the win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the surprising loss of the NU Bulldogs, the DLSU Green Batters are now set for a finals rematch with the Ateneo Blue Batters. Having won seven straight games in the tournament, confidence is in an all-time high for the Green Batters.
Coach Joseph Orillana and the rest of the coaching staff are very proud with what the team is doing right now. But still, the coaches still want to emphasize on certain things. For Coach Jo he sees the intense defense from last year slowly coming back to life. He complemented on how the fielders were able to coordinate properly in the last few games and how pitching became an even bigger factor for the Green Batters. Batting and certain pauses of momentum during mid-game have been the usual problems of the team. Coach Jo worries that the team are becoming too dependent on their defense and pitching. He added, “Di pwede ganyan, lalo na sa mga tight game. Di pwede pitcher lang tratrabaho kailangan pa rin ng palo. Kung di na kayo gagawa ng paraan, kami na lang gagawa ng paraan ng mga coaches. Kasi yung hitting diskarte na nila. Kung di sila didiskarte kami na lag didiskarte.
Focus and staying healthy were the main points being spread around the team. Though the next two games won’t change the finals matchup, the coaches will still use it to know what’s best for the team. Coach Jo made it clear that he wants 110% from his team. Lastly, the whole coaching staff feels that the killer instinct of the Green Batters has finally returned. The Green-and-White team believes that this will be the year they’ll finally take the crown. They know that “This is our year.”
The DLSU Green Batters will next face the NU Bulldogs March 3. The second round will then end March 6 with a rivalry matchup between DLSU and ADMU. All games will still be held at the same venue.